The Loch Ness Marathon, Sunday, October 6, 2019

Peter Hart

The Highest Point in Scotland

Something was not right!

The first half mile was spent adjusting my new running belt, taking it off, putting it back on then readjusting my new running belt. By the time I was satisfied with it, I was already half a mile in. Something still wasn’t right…

My quads, my quads were burning. Around half a mile downhill and my quads were already burning, that’s not right.

2 miles in and I knew that I was not going to get my target time and that this was going to be hell just to finish, if I finished it all!

Fast forward.

I had finished.

I have given all the money I had on me to my kids so they would just leave me in peace for a moment as I watched other finishers and listen to the announcer talk everyone over the line.

I saw Sarah Fawcett and Aileen Scott pass in quick succession in a time that was well under five hours. I screamed and encouraged them as they passed, both had a steely, unblinking focus on the finish line and completely ignored everything I said, until I accidentally yelled  “Come on Eileen!”

Sorry again Aileen.

As I stood watching the pain and joy on people’s faces as they achieved their marathon dreams, I was brought back to reality with the mind numbing spasms from my legs and the realisation that, shit I’ve just smashed that race, that was the hardest thing that I have ever attempted and I smashed it.

That’s when a big wave of emotion came over me and I shuffled off to find my wife as quickly as I could,( which was horrendously slow, painful and resembled the movement of a drunken new-born giraffe.) I gave her a hug and she could tell that I was a bit emotional and so she told me “Come on Peter, you are milking this now aren’t you, it’s time your manned up a bit!”

Probably half of the field hadn’t even finished the race, yet I’ve been milking this for too long!

In hindsight, a deep tissue massage, (elbows and all) followed by a day sitting in the car travelling is not good marathon prep and will never be repeated.

Why did we travel half way across the UK, so far North of the wall that John Snow would be scared, to run a race that was so clearly not a PB course I hear you say?

My wife and I have talked about this considerably in the last few days and we have come to the conclusion that…

We don’t know!

I think the seed may have been sown by the fact that my fabulous wife was 40 years old on the 8th of January this year and so because of this she decided that she would arrange a trip to coincide with every possible marathon I had my eye on for the rest of 2019!

  1. Berlin marathon – she was in Las Vegas.
  2. Manchester marathon- she was in Dublin.
  3. Liverpool marathon- She ran the half.
  4. London didn’t want me, AGAIN!
  5. Errrr, are there any more?

Etc, etc…

bout 53, Loch Ness? Errrr, why not Anna Seeley says it’s a Pb course! (Whatever Anna!)

I had achieved two good times in 2018 and it was getting infectious. I wanted a sub 3hours 30 minutes Marathon.

Loch Ness it is!

So it was I found myself rummaging around at 5.30am in a dark Airbnb somewhere in Inverness, on a windy and rainy Sunday morning. I had to walk the 1.8 miles to the bus pickup point and be there for 7:15 am. It goes without saying that I was late, so I ran down until I bumped into a bunch of striders making their way along the finish line towards the army of buses.

The Scottish bus armada

I have never seen as many buses in my life. It was like a Scottish bus armada. I pictured some marathon organiser sending out a spirited, Dunkirk-esc message to all Scottish bus companies, stating that we need your buses. However, when you Bring your buses please make sure that you are horrendously early, just so we can leave all of our runners abandoned on the top of a mountain, probably the highest point in Scotland, for one hour 20 minutes before the race starts, in the pissing rain and wind!
They all obeyed, to the minute.

I was quite the Fountain of knowledge on the bus journey as we had taken a cruise around Loch Ness looking for Nessie the day before. Arriving at Scotland’s highest point with the excellent addition of Scotland’s worst weather, there was literally nothing there apart from the start line, about eight portable toilets and three or four small tanks of hot water to make free cups of coffee and tea. The planning of this was exceptional as we had about 80 minutes to wait for the race to start and each queue looks like it would take about 79 minutes until you reach the front…

I had a dilemma at this point, do I go to the queue for the toilet or do I go for the queue for the free hot drink? I didn’t have time to queue for both.

I wisely chose the hot drink and then proceeded to wee in a bush as the announcer kept telling us not to wee in the afore mentioned bushes. If they did not want us to wee in the bushes then they should’ve probably given us more than eight portable toilets for 5000 people!

It was time to get serious and the race was about to start. I split the race down into four sections:

  1. The first 10 miles was substantially downhill. (Apart from the uphill sections!)
  2. Miles 10 to 18 are the nice, flat, easy section. (Apart from the uphill sections!)
  3. Miles 18 to 20 there was a quite decent and protracted Hill section.
  4. Mile 20 to 26.2 was slightly downhill or flat section.

As previously mentioned, I knew in the 2nd mile that I was in trouble and by mile 11 I honestly was ready to give up.

The 10 miles’ downhill section had much more uphill than I had expected and I also had to put more effort in to this section than I expected. By the time I got to the flat section between mile 10 and mile 18 it was game up. Whenever I got a flat bit of road and tried to get up the target pace the burning return to my legs, it was the same whenever I ran uphill. So I had a decision to make.

Give up, jog round or give up!

This decision got me to thinking about my team Hart that consists of my little girl Vesper, (aged 4) my boy Carter (aged 7) and my wonderful, supporting and very long suffering wife Emma. (Aged 40!)

I thought about how they had travelled to the edge of the arctic circle to support me. Then the guilt started…

How dare you think about quitting when your family have travelled 300 miles just to watch you run past for 10 seconds.

How dare you think about slowing down just because it hurts a bit when they have stood in a muddy field for hours just to get a glimpse of their dad running past.

How dare I not give every last bit of effort I have in my body when my wife is currently trying to survive and control my two troubled angels and no doubt be using some sort of Jedi mind tricks to persuade them away from their daily fight to the death!

All of this just to be there for me…

Come on Peter, man up and get this done!

The next couple of hours were a blur of thoughts regarding making my Kids proud, Emma and what she has sacrificed for me, various Striders and how they have helped me, trying to make my Dad proud hahaha that literally can never happen and the 7 months of training that I had endured. All of this while Slim shady or Eminem as he likes to be known was banging out “Lose yourself.”

Oh and not to forget the searing pain in the front of my legs!

The course is very beautiful, but also hard. The road that you run down is closed and so apart from sporadic water and energy gel stops and two villages the course is very, very quiet.

Long story short, I did it!

I was about 6 minutes slower than my Pb and a good 10 minutes off the time that I was aiming for, but I am so proud of myself for not quitting and literally putting every bit of energy I could muster into getting the best time that I possibly could.

My legs were/are absolutely wrecked during and after the race. I could not stand up, sit down, walk, lean, lie down or act in any way shape or form how a normal human would. The kids made fun of me because it looks like I had pooed myself, I got stuck in the bath and couldn’t get out, in short, I was an absolute mess. I laid it all out on the course that day.

After the race I made a new rule.

The distance travelled to a race may equal, but would never be greater than the time taken to run the race.

Doing what I do best

Marathons get you, they really do. I love the emotional and physical rollercoaster ride that is a marathon. It can take over everything, most of your time, all of your energy, your weekends, your evenings, your family time, your conversations or you will wake up on the middle of the night and have to do some more calculations regarding average minute mile pace. It never ends. 

Also, this is the biggest secret of running a marathon.

Anyone that has ever ran a marathon will tell you that it’s not easy to bring up in every conversation you ever have that you’re running a marathon soon. You have to be on top of your game to make sure that you don’t miss an opportunity to slip it into a conversation.

Marathons can take over your life, (just ask my wife!) But there is something magical when you cross the finish line of a marathon. Until you’ve done it you don’t understand, you can’t understand yet and you will never understand, because you haven’t earned it yet.

We went to Loch Ness in search of something, what I found was that I have a deep, burning desire to make my kids and wife proud of me and in the pursuit of that I have found that I can go far beyond what I previously thought was possible.
Who knows what the future holds…

Oh and I found the Loch Ness monster…

It’s at mile 19!

Team Hart

Click here for results

PosRace NoFirst NameLast NameHalf TimeGun TimeChip TimeCategory
11IsaiahKOSGEI
(Metro Aberdeen Running Club)
01:11:1502:29:3102:29:31Mara-M40
66KatieWHITE
(Garscube Harriers)
01:19:0802:42:0402:42:03Mara-FS
4352283PeterHART01:43:0303:40:2403:39:15Mara-M40
1696955AlanSCOTT02:07:3004:29:1704:25:55Mara-M50
1911649CraigWALKER02:06:4604:36:5504:34:09Mara-M60
21181263DebraTHOMPSON02:15:4204:45:1804:41:56Mara-F50
22584009SarahFAWCETT02:17:1004:54:1804:47:02Mara-F50
2394956AileenSCOTT02:16:5904:56:3204:51:52Mara-F40
3033503SophieDENNIS02:25:2705:32:0405:28:48Mara-FS
32713771KarenWILSON02:37:4605:56:1305:51:08Mara-F40
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